Saturday, July 30, 2016

China Flies Nuclear-Capable H-6K Bombers over Scarborough Shoal

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has flown a nuclear-capable H-6K long-range bomber over Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyan Island in Chinese. There are currently around 16 nuclear-capable H-6Ks in service with the PLAAF.

According to PLAAF Senior Colonel Shen Jinke the overflight was regular “practice” and part of the PLAAF’s more realistic combat training. “To effectively fulfill its mission, the air force will continue to conduct combat patrols on a regular basis in the South China Sea,” he said.
The PLAAF’s H-6K long-range bomber is a derivative of the Soviet-era Tupolov Tu-16 twin-engined jet strategic bomber. In 2007, the PLAAF introduced the bomber’s latest variant with more powerful and fuel-efficient engines, lighter weight composites, and modern electronics, among a host of other upgrades.
Shen said. “The PLA Air Force will firmly defend national sovereignty, security, and maritime interests, safeguard regional peace and stability, and cope with various threats and challenges,”
The H-6K’s maximum range is about 1,900 miles (3,057 kilometers) and the bomber can carry a payload of up to 12 tons. The H-6K lacks stealth capacity but can carry up to seven YJ-12 supersonic anti-ship missiles (six on wing pylons plus one in the bomb bay) or CJ-20 subsonic land-attack cruise missiles with an estimated range of 250 and 1,500 miles respectively.
Scarborough Shoal has been under de facto Beijing occupation since an April 2012 standoff when its ships drove away Filipino boats from traditional rich fishing grounds there.

The shoal is about 198 kilometres (123 mi) west of Subic Bay. The nearest landmass is Luzon island in the Philippines, 220 km (137 mi) due east.